OFFICIAL SECRETS

Official Secrets movie poster
In 2003, British intelligence specialist Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) received an NSA classified memo about the United States seeking Britain's help. The mission was to gather compromising information for the purpose of blackmailing United Nations Security Council members into voting in favor of an invasion of Iraq. Morally against an illegal war, Gun became a whistleblower and leaked the memo to the press. She risked everything by defying the government, including her life and marriage to Kurdish refugee Yasar Gun (Adam Bakri).

Another effective performance by Keira Knightley gives this true-life political drama a huge boost. Based on the
book "The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion" by Marcia & Thomas Mitchell, this harrowing story is little-known in America. Director Gavin Hood ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), co-writer of the screenplay with Gregory and Sara Bernstein, slowly unfolds the facts behind this government conspiracy that prompted the outraged and conflicted Gun to try saving innocent lives. Attempts to add tension at crucial moments never quite ring true, yet the audience needs to be entertained while getting a history lesson. I'm sure the way it really happened was slightly different. But this is a character-driven film and the cast certainly delivers. The charismatic Ms. Knightley, impressive as a woman under extreme pressure, gets plenty of help from the supporting players. Matt Smith, Matthew Goode, and Rhys Ifans take center stage as the journalists who broke the story from the leaked memo. Any chance to see Ralph Fiennes, who portrays the lead defense lawyer for Katharine, on screen is welcomed. He doesn't disappoint. I'll admit I was unfamiliar with the events depicted here. While this movie is melodramatic and manipulative at times, it's still a worthwhile learning experience. The revealing "Official Secrets" is intelligent entertainment. (3.5/5 CAMS)

Rated R (for language)
Running Time: 112 minutes

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